Bullfighting is Cody Webster's calling
Cody Webster can't remember wanting to be anything but a bullfighter.
As a young boy, he would paint himself with his mother's make-up, put on some oversized pants and run through the house pretending to be a rodeo clown. Every Halloween, he would go trick-or-treating dressed as a rodeo clown.
Coming from a family of barrel racers and bull riders, Webster never desired to be one of the cowboys who got on the back of a bucking bull. He always admired the guys who protected the cowboys by putting themselves in between the bull and the bull rider.
He considers it his calling.
“I think it was what I was put on Earth to do,” said the 26-year-old from Wayne.
By age 11, Webster was getting in the arena with bulls. By age 15, he was flying across the country working bull riding events as a bullfighter.
Now, Webster is protecting bull riders on the biggest stages in bull riding. His resume includes six National Finals Rodeos and five PBR World Finals.
Webster and his bullfighting mentor, fellow Oklahoman Frank Newsom from Paoli, will be trying to keep the cowboys safe at the PBR's Express Ranches Invitational on Friday and Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The field includes four bull riders from Oklahoma: Ryan Dirteater of Hulbert, Colten Jesse of Konawa, Cannon Cravens of Porum and Brennon Eldred of Sulphur.
In addition, D&H Cattle Co. from Dickson is one of the top stock contractors for the PBR as D&H's SweetPro's Bruiser has been voted the PBR Bull of the Year three consecutive years.
Cord McCoy of Tupelo and L.J. Jenkins of Porum, both former bull riders who are now bull breeders and stock contractors, also should have bucking bulls in Oklahoma City.
“It's bull country around here,” Webster said. “This is the bull belt.”
The clowning is rarely part of a bullfighter's job anymore. The PBR has its own entertainer in the arena. A bullfighter's sole focus is to keep the bull riders out of harm's way as best he can.
It's a near impossible job. No matter how well they do it, cowboys get hurt and even killed. Two weeks ago at a PBR event in Colorado, bull rider Mason Lowe of Missouri died after being stomped by a bull.
“I knew Mason very well,” Webster said. “He is a really cool guy. Just a bad deal, you know.”
Webster wasn't working the event but said there wasn't anything the bullfighters that night could have done to prevent it.
“It's been a tragedy but we've (bull riders and bullfighters on the PBR tour) all bonded together and getting through it,” Webster said.
It was the third time a bull rider has been killed in the PBR's 26-year history. Injuries, and even fatalities, or just part of the game.
Webster has suffered multiple broken bones and torn ligaments in his career as a bullfighter, but never hesitates getting back in the arena.
“All of us know when we sign on the dotted line, either to ride bulls or fight bulls, it's a dangerous job. There is no way around that,” he said. “It's just how I make a living. It's the only thing I have ever known how to do.”
And the only thing he ever wanted to do.
Express Ranches Invitational
• When: 7:45 p.m. Friday and 6:45 p.m. Saturday
• Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena